More than the God of Fishermen: Njord

The following is an excerpt from one of my submissions to Between Wind and Water: A Devotional for Njord.

Visiting Noatun

 I stand to go but stop. Head down, I ask if he wants anything of me. I am no fisher and water frightens me. I have nothing to offer him myself except for myself. He takes this. 

Njord showed me he is more than a fisherman, more than a mere god of boats on the waves. He is more than a captive diplomat and more than a father to great gods. There is a reason he and Nertha had twins, that these twins are gods of fertility. Njord, in his right and act of husbandry to the seas and lover of the earth, is a god of fertility. 

I saw the wives of fishermen, their thighs and bellies washed with sea water, singing praises and prayers to Njord and other gods of the ocean. I saw then ask for his touch as they spread their legs to his waters. Their bellies swelled and they bathed them with ocean water for Njord’s protection and maleness. When their waters broke and washed over them it was collected and given back to the ocean, water for water, in offering on the day they baptized their sons by the waves. They were blessed and their love for Njord was palpable. 

I was shaken by the revelation and his intensity. Afterwards, Njord went back to his work. The full moon is a few night away and the salmon are running. He is busy with his work. I gather myself and step onto the dock. Once I reach land, Hlin is there. She wraps me in her cloak as I kneel on the ground. My body is still swaying with the tide as Njord’s water flows out of me, over my thighs and into the earth. I am clean and full of knowing. 

Read the full submission and many others by picking up your copy of Between Wind and Water at Asphodel Press.

Sunwait: A Heathen Advent

I first heard of Sunwait from a fellow Heathen friend. I saw her post her FUTHARK candles and asked what this was all about. She directed me to Vantljusstaken’s page. There I learned about Sunwait and became inspired by this modern idea of Heathen Advent.

Why Heathen Advent?

I can’t speak for everyone but my kid is in a holiday frenzy so I need a count down. Not only does it allow him to feel like we’re already celebrating, it also helps me bring in our faith and stories during times when he is inundated with secular and religious Christmas concepts.

This helps me too. Yule is a big deal in our home. Not only does it give us a chance to celebrate and give thanks and offerings to our Gods, Ancestors, and Wights, but it helps us balance our lives in Christian family/culture. Leading up to Yule, a Heathen Advent allows me to prepare that Northern Tradition mindset, get into the spirit of the thing, and make me feel less overwhelmed by all the secular commercial hubbub.

But There’s No Lore

I’ve seen a little bit of backlash about Sunwait. A bunch of Heathen Recons saying that the concept of a Heathen Advent is preposterous and demanding that those of us celebrating conjure up some lore to explain ourselves.

I’m not a reconstructionist. I love reading lore, archeological findings, poetry, etc but its not the foundation of my beliefs. The Gods, the spirits, and my ancestors are the foundation of my beliefs. In that vein, setting aside some time weekly during a season when things get hectic in order to celebrate what truly matters – I am certain our ancestors would be proud and I know my Gods don’t mind. Honoring the Gods, spirits, and Ancestors is DEFINITELY in the lore.

Besides – since when is stagnation something to be admired? Why not create new traditions so long as they are founded in piety?

How We Celebrate Sunwait

I saw that many celebrants of Sunwait were focusing on weekly rituals, most of them on Thursdays (Thor’s Day). These usually involve a lighting of one of six candles. Each of the candles are often marked with one of the first 6 FUTHARK runes (Feoh, Urux, Thurisaz, Ansuz, Raidho, Kenaz).

I chose to celebrate on Friday (Frigga’s Day). This would end my Sunwait celebration on Mother’s Night (December 20th), which also happens to be my birthday. I’ve been told I’m not the only person to do it on this night.

Each Friday I have/am lighting 1 candle. 1 chose 5 black tea lights and 1 white taper. These I am anointing with flax seed oil and setting individual intentions. I admit now, I’m playing this all a little by ear since, as I’ve said, there’s no lore around it.

The First Night of Sunwait

The first night, last Friday, I did a deep and thorough cleaning of my Ancestor and Frigga (and Her handmaidens) altars. That night, I lit a candle for the Ancestors, specifically the Disir as well as left offerings to them and to Frigga. Over the weekend, I did some genealogy work in offering to them and my descendants. I also did some bone throwing asking for some aid in that work – specifically regarding a branch of the family I have a difficult time connecting with.

This past week has been very interesting. Both my husband and myself have received a lot of messages, synchronicity, and inspiration that we both attribute to our Sunwait focus.

The Second Night and Onward

Tonight I light the 2nd candle and am focusing on Frigga and Her handmaidens – especially Fulla, Vor, Eir, Hlin, and Saga. Odin has also elbowed His way into much of my thoughts today so I am also honoring Him. My son and I baked some eggnog loaf that we are leaving slices of in offering.

In the weeks to come, I will likely do some more bone throwing, offerings, and Yule preparations. I will say that I feel more excited and grounded since starting this new tradition. This opposed to feeling grouchy about family Christmas and being inundated by the holidays whenever I leave the house.

Gebo: Increasing Power and Flow of Blessings

What does your tradition do to increase power and the flow of blessings? In the Havamal, the Cosmic Law of Compensation is written: “Better not to over-pledge as a gift demands a gift.”

Gifts

I have many answers to this question but right now I want to focus on a particular lesson that I am currently meditating on and practicing strongly – this is the practice of Gebo.
Gebo is one of the Elder Futhark Runes and its literal meaning or translation is Gift. Its meanings include:

  • gifts 
  • giving and taking 
  • trade 
  • sacrifice 
  • process of exchange
  • balance
  • compensation
  • equilibrium
  • law of reciprocation
  • altruism
  • the gravity of equals and opposites
  • generosity 
  • hospitality
  • honor

This rune governs balance in all exchanges between people whether its the exchange of gifts, trade between merchants, marital gifts, harmony between siblings, even exchange between the romantic and sexual union between people. 

Personal Practice

​I was introduced to this concept a few years ago and this year in particular, its practice keeps coming up for me again and again. When meditating and speaking with the Norse goddess Frigga, I have found that it is important for me to practice this in my life consciously and so I have made it a focus on daily meditation and in my actions. 
One of the ways I have practiced Gebo is by having equal exchange with 2 friends – In one instance a new friend gave me an in-depth rune reading that clarified a few things that I have been experiencing recently. For her I made a scarf that I was inspired in pattern and color by her matron goddess Angrboda. 
The second instance needs some explaining – in my meditations and practice it has been decided that I will learn the runes but my first set must be given to me as an act of Gebo – a gift for a gift. My best friend and sister of the craft bought me a rune set that is currently being shipped to me and I made for her a tarot bag to her specifications. 

Exchange of Words & Actions

​By practicing Gebo, I see that the Gods do provide and that there can be a fair exchange between people. I also see that there can be joy and camaraderie between people when exchange is done this way that is missing when money is used instead. I believe that when we do this we also see that when we buy things with money, we aren’t spending paper – we’re spending hours of our lives. 
I notice more now how much time I lose with my husband while he is at work more than before – vs when he is working on wood or metal in his shop and enjoying himself here in the home. I notice that I think more about what items are worth. ​I also practice Gebo in my exchange of words and actions with others. I think about how I interact and wonder – am I speaking fairly or treating them fairly? I consider my time and energy in an exchange and am more likely now to back out of conversations or interactions that do not nourish me or are wasting my patience and time rather than forcing my way through them.  ​Gebo is a blessing to humans, a blessing of gifts and of relationships. This is a blessing that means so much more than physical items as it is something that lasts longer and is truer than any bought or traded item. It is a practice used by the gods, our ancestors, nature, and us. 

Committing to the Divine

“Commitment handfasts us to the object of that commitment, and like a marriage it requires regular attendance and attention. For example, we cannot claim to be committed to a lover unless he or she can depend on us when we’re needed. Similarly, one cannot claim devotion to a spiritual practice or path honored only on solstices, Sundays, or Sabbats…spiritually speaking, commitment is the full consignment of the magickal self – with no provision for default, no requirement for success, and no room for regret.”
Commitment by Jesse Wolf Hardin in Cakes & Ale for the Pagan Soul

Church is Full on Holidays

​I read this editorial in Cakes & Ale the other day and it struck home, hard. Recently I’ve made a strong connection with Frigga and her presence in my life has been one that does not allow conditional devotion. This queen is an all-or-nothing kind of gal and my experiences with her have led me to think on my past experiences as a pagan and how I and other spiritually minded people of all faiths that I have met treat the divine, devotion, and our path. 
Most pagans I know consider themselves more spiritually minded than most Christians they know. I have heard many disdainful remarks towards Christians who seem to only live their faith on Sundays or, worse, on Christmas and Easter. To be fair, I’ve heard similar remarks from Christians themselves and, actually, there is some truth in it. What I feel should also be pointed out is that many pagans also fall into this category – mouthing and dancing along to known practices only on the Sabbats or only on the full moon. I see a lot of witches talking about spells and the craft but very few really living it beyond the pagan chat rooms or monthly/bi-monthly meetups. 

​Apprehension & Service

​I will say that not all witches are religious or spiritual – some only practice the craft and have no divine ties to their work. Good for them. This post is about those who follow a religion, especially those with a Matron/Patron deity that they honor, worship, and/or serve. 
Some pagans absolutely HATE it when I mention servitude in regards to deity and witchcraft. This brings about ideas of submission, Christian ideals, and entrapment. Some pagans go so far as to say that the gods have no interest at all in servants and to suggest so or even go so far as discuss god-slaves is blasphemy. Others argue that the gods have no need of servants, that they can easily do whatever it is that they want doing on this plane without aid of humans.  ​You might be asking, what the hell does commitment, Frigga, and devotion have to do with servitude and wondering why I am getting off on a tangent. 

Disclaimer

​Before I go further, I do want to say that whatever way you practice your craft and faith is your own business and no one, including me, has a right to tell you how to do it. I only want to point out a few things that I observe and my opinions and feelings on them. 

​Divine Demands

​While no deity has any interest in forcing a human to do something for them, I have learned in my experiences and in reading and talking to other pagans that have experienced divine presences, that they do have tasks they desire humans to perform for them on this earthly plane. I won’t attempt to speculate much on whether or not the divine could do this themselves – I don’t think one should risk the divine proving them wrong – but it does seem that there are some duties and tasks they would prefer we do instead. 
In Christianity, God charges His followers to perform duties that include telling others of Him, charitable works, healing, and more. Perhaps it is the similarity to the Christian faith that many pagans are trying to avoid when they say that their gods have no need of servants or tasks performed here. 

​Experiences

​In my experience and reading, the Christian God doesn’t seem to hold the corner market on asking/telling humans what they need to do. In fact, its not just the divine that does this but also our guardians and guides. 
A few years ago, i was led by spirit and a couple of my guides to learn Reiki and Sekhmet Sekhem in order to heal some people I know as well as myself. I didn’t have an interest in Reiki or energy healing before but I did was I was inspired to do and ended up needed this hands-on healing many times sense even though I don’t advertise my ability to do it.  ​Recently, this divine urging has come from Frigga. I won’t go into detail as to what all has happened with her but I will say that part of it was a quick request from me for her to look over a woman and her baby who was in NICU. She said I would have to do some work in order to get that aid. 
Part of the committment to the divine is doing things we aren’t gung ho for and another part is understanding that there is a give and take. Some consider this keeping the universe in balance, others believe that the gods, like humans, simply aren’t always interested in doing something for nothing. 
So I had to add my own work into her blessing by creating a physical item for her to work through in the life of this woman and child. I later came to understand that, because the woman was not a follower or believer in Frigga, she needed something to connect her with them when the circumstances would otherwise involve prayer, belief, and intention on the part of someone else. 

​Hands of Gods

​Just a random question to pagans who think that the divine has no need for us to perform tasks – why in the world would they 1) help us at all and 2) would we leave offerings to them when we ask for aid? Just curious, what’s your thoughts? 
What I think: Sometimes the divine needs its followers and god-servants to do the work for them on this plane because so many people do not believe. Without belief, the work cannot be done. So the divine needs those few the believe for them. 

What does this have to do with Commitment?

​Well, how can we do the work of and for the divine if we only acknowledge them maybe once a week, once a month, once a blue moon? How can we expect to work with them or them to work through us if we do not attend to that relationship regularly? How can we ask for their aid and guidance if we do not also give back by doing what they ask of us here?  Not long after I did what Frigga asked me, I was considering going to a pagan event and honoring her there. That night I had a dream that I was at said event and someone called for a toast to the Mother Goddess. We all drank and I drained my cup as I mentally honored Frigga. She then spoke to me, admonishing me for being among a group of people that said they honor the gods but do not mean it. She said they are like children, pretending at play, except that even children have reverence. 
My lesson from this dream is it is better to speak to your gods and commit to them in true and dedicated devotion alone – even if your words are jumbled, don’t rhyme, or, heaven forbid, you don’t even have a ceremonial circle or altar or anything than it is to join together and have a party with all the right words and costumes and dance but have no love or dedication in your hearts. ​